The Day a Computer Beat The World Chess Champion in 1997

Spectators watch live the final, decisive game in the rematch between Garry Kasparov and the IBM computer Deep Blue. May 11, 1997.

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In 1997, the world was stunned when they saw the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beating the World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. Hunching over the chessboard, the visibly frustrated Kasparov was also shaking his head in utter disbelief. When the computer made its final move for an inevitable victory, the astounded Grandmaster stood up and raised his arms in disbelief that he was beaten by a machine.

The IBM supercomputer Deep Blue was a machine capable of processing an average of 200,000,000 positions per second. But chess world champ Kasparov was confident going into the match. Besides, he was the Michael Jordan of chess in the 1990s. He also defeated an earlier version of Deep Blue in 1996.

In December 2016, Kasparov talked about the match in a podcast with neuroscientist Sam Harris. He said: “While writing the book I did a lot of research – analysing the games with modern computers, also soul-searching – and I changed my conclusions. I am not writing any love letters to IBM, but my respect for the Deep Blue team went up, and my opinion of my own play, and Deep Blue’s play, went down. Today you can buy a chess engine for your laptop that will beat Deep Blue quite easily”.

Kasparov rebounded in the following 5 games, fighting the computer to 2 draws and 3 victories, winning the overall match. Deep Blue’s win was seen as symbolic, a sign that artificial intelligence was catching up to human intelligence. The possibility was glaring that it could defeat one of humanity’s great intellectual champions.

Garry Kasparov takes a pawn in the opening moves of a six-game match against Deep Blue, operated by designer Feng-hsiung Hsu. February 10, 1996.

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Deep Blue at IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York.

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A view of Deep Blue’s display screen.

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A computer programmer at IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York.

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Deep Blue developer Dr. Chung-Jen Tan applauds Garry Kasparov after his victory over the supercomputer in the six-game match.

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Kasparov poses for a photo while training for his rematch against Deep Blue.

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Kasparov lifts a white hat which signifies that he will have the first move in his rematch with Deep Blue.

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Feng-hsiung Hsu prepares Deep Blue before Kasparov makes his opening move in the first of six games.

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Kasparov contemplates his opening move in Game 1 of the rematch.

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Kasparov moves his first piece, a knight, in the first game of the rematch.

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Spectators watch the first game. March 3, 1997.

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IBM scientist Murray Campbell makes a move for Deep Blue in Game 2.

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Kasparov makes a move in Game 2.

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Kasparov ponders a move in Game 3, after winning the first game and losing the second.

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Spectators watch a live broadcast of Game 3.

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The IBM Deep Blue team pose for a photo after Game 4 ended in a draw, leaving the score still tied.

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Kasparov struggling against Deep Blue.

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The anticipation.

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Kasparov considers his next move early in Game 5.

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Kasparov holds his head in his hands as IBM scientist Joseph Hoane makes a move for Deep Blue at the start of the final game. May 11, 1997.

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Kasparov wears a look of dejection after being swiftly defeated by Deep Blue in their final game. May 11, 1997.

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Kasparov reflects on his loss to Deep Blue in their final game. May 11, 1997.

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